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Nonna Elvira’s Torta Di Ricotta

This is a classic Roman Jewish recipe from my friend Anna Rosa, whose family hails from the Eternal City.  Anna Rosa, a member of my Italian chit-chat group, fondly remembers her grandmother Elvira preparing this dessert, which is kind of a cross between a cheesecake and a custard. Raisins and grated citrus peel are the traditional ingredients, but you could switch it up any number of ways by adding chocolate chips, nuts or candied citrus peel.  I didn’t have the large 11 or 12-inch cake pan called for, so I used a clay paella pan instead. It meant baking a little longer than normal and a little more difficulty in turning upside down after it cooled, but a sprinkling of powdered cocoa can cover up any mishaps that may occur. It would be much simpler though if you bake it in a large spring form pan. If it’s a smaller diameter than 11 or 12 inches, just leave it in the oven a little longer. October 2009 829 Nonna Elvira’s Torta di Ricotta printable recipe here 3 pounds ricotta, drained 8 T. sugar 8 eggs pinch of salt 1 t. vanilla 1/4 t. cinnamon 1 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in rum for an hour, then drained grated rind of one lemon and one orange butter for greasing pan breadcrumbs or matzo meal Drain the ricotta for several hours or preferably overnight in a cheesecloth-lined colander. Prepare the cake pan. I used a clay paella pan that measured about 11 inches in diameter, but a large spring form pan would be best. Butter the pan generously and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. (I used matzo meal instead.) Using a fork, break up the ricotta in a bowl and mix in the sugar and eggs, one at a time. Do not use an electric mixer or you’ll incorporate too much air.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with the fork. Place the pan in a bagna maria (hot water bath) and bake at 350 degrees.  Bake for one hour to one hour and  15 minutes, depending on thickness of pan. Let it cool, then flip upside down onto serving plate and sprinkle with powdered cocoa or confectioner’s sugar. Decorate with fresh fruit.  October 2009 832

This Post Has 18 Comments
  1. My hubby's favorite desserts always consist of ricotta. I'll have to try this custard-like crustless version, we both would love it. I just made him a ricotta pie last week with a crust, mini chocolate chips and orange citron. I can't make it often, he has no self contol!

  2. Gorgeous. I need to join your chit-cat group now. I would love to feature it in the Examiner and link back to you (after I've made it). We make something very similar in our house – but nt the same crust. Oh what happy memories.

  3. anche la mia nonna si chiamava elvira, ma lei era livornese e molto esperta nelle zuppe di pesce e nelle frittelle!!! questa tua torta però è splendida e penso che la proverò presto. Ciao e un bacio

  4. What a gift to have my great grandmother represented here. Though one of the few things I can remember about her is her love for coffee… my father frequently tells us how this ricotta cake was the best thing he ever ate. Sadly I was not able to experience it made by her I feel honored to see her recipe here. I am exited to make this cake with my mom and continue the tradition.
    Thanks you,
    Alicia Kohn

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